Human Rights Watch Issues Report – “DC Police Mishandle Sexual Assault Cases”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From Human Rights Watch:

Victims of sexual assault in Washington, DC, are not getting the effective response they deserve and should expect from the district’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Sexual assault cases are too often not properly documented or investigated and victims may face callous, traumatizing treatment, despite official departmental policy to the contrary.

The 196-page report, “Capitol Offense: Police Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases in the District of Columbia,” concludes that in many sexual assault cases, the police did not file incident reports, which are required to proceed with an investigation, or misclassified serious sexual assaults as lesser or other crimes. Human Rights Watch also found that the police presented cases to prosecutors for warrants that were so inadequately investigated that prosecutors had little choice but to refuse them and that procedural formalities were used to close cases with only minimal investigation. The mayor and City Council should create an independent mechanism to monitor police department response to sexual assault complaints.

14 Comment

  • They are discussing this on the Kojo Nnamdi show right now.

  • This reminds me of the anecdotes people have shared on PoPville about D.C. police not wanting to take reports for burglaries, downgrading crimes like burglaries to lesser crimes like “lost property,” etc…. but this is of course even more disturbing, given the violence aspect and the psychological trauma.

  • I used to volunteer for the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, and in training we were warned about uncooperative and judgmental police officers. I did not end up having any contact with officers, but, in one case, I was an advocate for a rape victim who had been bribed/forced by a police officer to have intercourse. The first step in getting justice is responsive and respectful police officers who take this all too common crime seriously.

  • Well when there is no real system of checks and balances for police/law enforcement, of course they will want to lower the numbers of actual reported crimes that they have to solve… and of course they’ll want to report the reported crimes as “unsolveable” in one way or another. Teachers are observed constantly, office personal are given annual or more frequent reviews, politicians are voted into or out of office, but there’s basically nothing enforcing law enforcement, especially in DC. Guess it’s good that private groups like HRW are getting involved.

    A few years ago I lived next to a brothel in Petworth, one where young girls were hidnapped and chained in the basement to receive clients. Neighbors and I reported this countless times, even visiting the local precinct, and years went by with these poor girls getting raped in this house. Finally the case was “solved” when one of the girls escaped and ran to police. I filed a complaint with the police and our councilmember after the case was solved, and nothing was ever done. It’s a bunch of bs, and it’s really scary that the police can get away with this kind of behavior.

    • that is horrendous. how did you come to learn that the girls was kidnapped and being held hostage there?

    • Is this a joke? You knew that young girls were “chained” and “raped” next door, and you couldn’t do anything about it? I call BS.

      • read this again:

        “Neighbors and I reported this countless times, even visiting the local precinct, and years went by with these poor girls getting raped in this house.”

        • it is just hard to fathom that someone called the police and reported a kidnapped girl being chained and raped in the basement, and the police not responding. even dc police.

          at what point do you call the evening news or the FBI when you know this is going on?

          • And it’s not like it was a story of “I heard from this guy that that house on the corner…”

            houseintherear, you’re saying that this was NEXT DOOR to you, and that you had certain knowledge of what was going on. Why on earth did you stop at the DC police stonewall? I can’t imagine not taking it about 15 steps further, in terms of enforcement and publicity. I hope there’s more (or less) to your story.

  • This does not surprise me – young women are forced into prostitution at alarming numbers in this city. In fact, brothels exist illegally all over the U.S. Much like rape, child molestation, etc., forced prostitution is a wide-spread crime.

    • You say this as if you know of specific cases and incidents. And so I ask you, what are you doing about it?

      Unless of course, you’re just repeating what you heard someone say they read one time…

      • I was merely stating that it is not surprising that there was a brothel in D.C., in contrast to comments of disbelief. Like many Americans, I have a job, family, commitments, and am not able to fully commit myself to “doing something about it.” People are able to freely share information without being accused of not “doing something about it.” When I was younger, I volunteered for the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, where we received extensive training in these issues. Does that satisfy you? If you doubt the information, you can peruse the RAINN website, or any of the other hundreds of websites providing information. Also, see this article as a small example:

  • Sorry I worded that really poorly… We reported the brothel situation, which was evident by the large numbers of men visiting the house at all hours and being transported in vans and cars with the same few drivers. We actually thought it was a illegal alien paperwork situation, but we were more just spooked by the dudes coming around. We also reported the noises that happened late at night and sounded like construction. We did *not* know about the forced prostitution, but found out afterwards from the police arrest blurb. I wrote countless letters, emails, left voicemails, and was told that there was nothing the police could have done. Not once did I ever see an officer knock on that house’s door or even slowly drive by after we reported it all so many times.

    • This was on 3rd between Gallaton & Hamilon, somewhere around 2007-2008. I tried to google it but no luck.

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